From an Overpacker to a Carry-On Lover (If I Can Do It, So Can YOU!)

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woman wearing backpack and pulling carryon luggage in airport

Traveling doesn’t have to be complicated.

While I love to travel and frequently do, I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to come to my most recent revelation. Carry-on luggage is the best way to go when packing up, heading to the airport, and traveling to a new place.

I was a notorious over-packer and always checked my bag (or bags!) before my flight – even when my trips were only a couple of days. 😬 Yes, I had a major issue with packing way too many clothes that took up space and never got worn.

On top of paying for the check bag fee, I always ran the risk of paying the extra cost if my bag weighed over the allotted amount. Not to mention the risk of having my bag lost in transit and having to wait a few days to receive it—or not receive it at all! 🤪

So… to be able to now say that I can pack clothing for a week in a little carry-on bag, well – gets me a wee bit excited. If you’re interested, you can listen to me ramble about my excitement by clicking the audio button below.

woman holding carry on luggage and bookbag on sidewalk

After really thinking about the cost of checking bags and even the time it takes (especially at large airports that tend to have crazy lines), I started thinking about carrying on my luggage more and more. How could I minimize my packing and truly make this work? I researched the best carry-on luggage, and how I could nail down no longer being an over-packer.

I’m so stoked to have successfully completed carrying on my luggage a few times now – even for week-long trips!

It’s so freeing to not pack nearly as much as I used to and only have the appropriate pieces before a trip (pieces that I will actually wear!). Here are some of my favorite carry-on benefits along with tips and tricks of how I do it. And trust me, if I can do this, so can you! 🙌

1. No waiting before and after your flight.

airport stores and hallway with various lights and signs for departures

Every time I get to the airport now with my carry-on, I wave hello and goodbye to the check-in counter! It’s probably my favorite part about carrying on my luggage.

Not only do we all now have the ability to check in for our flights online (or on the airline’s app) and get mobile boarding tickets right on our phones, but when you only have a carry-on, you have the luxury to just walk right past that super long line. It feels pretty amazing to be able to walk in the airport and literally go straight to security.

2. It saves you money.

man getting cash out of wallet

Checking a bag these days can get pretty costly depending on what airline you’re flying with. However, most airlines will let you carry on for free or for a lower cost than checking your luggage!

Hip Tip: Check out the best time to book a flight and get all the best deals on your next trip!

3. Forces you to not be an over-packer.


Plan your outfits! I literally used to just throw in my favorite clothes, not think about it at all, and bring so much stuff that I never even wore. Plus, I was spending more of my vacation time trying to figure out what to wear each day – not exactly how I want to spend my vacay.

It’s so freeing to already have your outfits picked out for the trip.

I also really enjoy staying at Airbnbs that have a washer and dryer so I can do laundry while I’m away. This allows me to wear staple pieces two or three times during a trip if I need to! I highly recommend staying at a place with laundry as it makes it so much easier to pack way less.

Bringing travel-sized stuff for personal care items and using packing cubes are two additional strategies that can save you space. And if you’re not too picky and are staying at a hotel (or possibly a house that supplies these), you don’t even need to bring shampoo, conditioner, or soaps since they’ll have all of that for you!

Also, when packing, keep in mind that to get through security at the airport – liquids, gels, and aerosols packed in carry-on luggage must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:

  • 3.4 ounces or less per container
  • 1 quart-size, clear, plastic, zip-top bag (all liquids must fit in the bag)
  • 1 bag per passenger

Want more tips?! Check out these 14 simple travel packing tips from an ex-over-packer!

4. No lost luggage.

three suitcases luggage in overhead compartment on airplane

If you’ve ever experienced losing your luggage while on a trip, you know how terrible it is! The last thing anyone wants to do when getting to their destination is scramble to buy new clothes, personal care items, etc. Not to mention, it’s extremely costly until you get reimbursed (and that’s if you even get full reimbursement for your belongings).

If you opt to carry on instead, the only thing that can pose a possible issue is if you forget to grab your bag when getting off the plane. When you’re not used to getting your bag from the overhead compartment, you could potentially lose it (which I have done before 🤪, but thankfully realized pretty quickly and was able to have someone get it off the plane for me!).

Here are my 2 current favorite travel items:

person in airport holding gray bookbag and carry on sized luggage

I love my IT luggage! They even claim to be the most lightweight luggage ever. I’m not totally sure if that’s 100%  true or not, but this luggage really is super lightweight and it’s amazingly easy to maneuver around the airport. It pushes so easily, and it fits in the over-head compartment perfectly!

I typically ditch my purse for any trip and carry my Lekesky backpack with my wallet, laptop, snacks, etc… I use it all the time, even when I’m not traveling. It’s high-quality, it has tons of compartments and a laptop sleeve, and it’s just super affordable and cute! Between the two of these items, traveling is now so easy!

woman with bun and backpack pulling wheeled luggage in airport

Hip Tip: Here are other highly-rated carry-on luggage options that we love.

Check out all of our most recent travel deals here!

Join The Discussion

Comments 107

  1. Klp

    I can’t believe how many airlines charge for a carry on now!

    • Emily

      You get a free personal item, though! I find that can pack for a week for myself in a small duffle bag.

  2. Michelle W

    I always fly Southwest. I keep forgetting other airlines charge for checking a bag.

    • keliannsaves

      Me too! Unfortunately, carry-ons are just not an option for me. My daughter and I have a ton of food allergies that requires me to pack an entire suitcase of just food options for us no matter where we go. Even Disney World who is more allergy friendly than most places isn’t allergy friendly enough for us. Just my packed soymilks alone won’t pass through security. Luckily with Southwest we can check 2 bags a person for free! I did invest in a luggage scale so I can always be sure to keep each suitcase under 50 pounds.

      • M.E. Stephens

        I have three with Celiac, peanut/tree nut, apples, celery, food dye and more…it’s so hard! However, I have everything shipped from prime pantry directly to our hotel or rental property. So much easier and cheaper. Good luck!

        • Gussiecat

          Smart idea with the shipping! I’ll have to remember that trick if my travels require it.

  3. Jennifer

    My husband and I have started traveling with one backpack per person. We have learned how to bring less. This minimalist way of packing allows us to have a more carefree experience. I bring a couple pair of pants that I can wear with different wrinkle-free shirts and wear shoes that I can wear with multiple outfits. If it is a warm destination I may roll up a sundress or two and put in there with flip flops or sandals. I wear whatever coat or jacket I am taking with me on the plane and it doubles as a blanket or pillow in flight. My backpack is also my purse and I carry a small personal hygiene/ makeup bag in the backpack. I bring a couple plastic grocery bags with me to keep dirty stuff seperate or if we are going to be walking a lot I can leave some of the extra weight in the hotel or car. I have found that we rarely leave anything behind in hotels or Airbnb’s when we have less to begin with. We don’t get souvenirs much anymore but if we do it’s usually something small like a destination Christmas ornament. You would be surprised how much you don’t need to have a great time and still look good doing it!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      I SO LOVE THIS! 😍 And couldn’t agree with you more – it definitely makes for a carefree experience like you said, and you just feel more relaxed with less stuff. 🤗

    • J

      Amen! The extra fees for an extra suitcase has always been enough to scare me & quickly made me a minimalist when traveling. You move quicker too with less junk. We literally just pack what we’re going to use.

  4. nldaadmin

    Such great wisdom here!
    My favorite travel tip is to multipurpose everything you can. I’ve taken a 3-week trip with one of the same size suitcases, and it’s so freeing not to have so much stuff to contend with. I usually take a muumuu, which serves 3 purposes. Sleep in it. Cover-up to pool. Wear it out or just to breakfast or for casual. Limit yourself to 2 pairs of shoes max (with maybe flip flops for the shower or beach. I sometimes pack a collapsible bag inside the small suitcase for souvenirs for the return trip, but don’t always use it…. Happy travels!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Love these tips! 🙌 Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. trista

    so its called “carry on” when you bring the luggage on the plane with you? i need to learn how to not over pack, because i always do that on our trips to the beach

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Hi Trista,

      Yes, correct. It’s called carry on luggage when you bring it with you on the plane. And I totally understand how hard it can be to not over-pack. It really helped when I started taking the time to put together my outfits prior to packing.

    • katieyianitsas

      But also be mindful that “carry on” is usually a smaller than average sized suitcase. Most airlines have dimensional restrictions that can be found online.

  6. Karen

    This is a great idea that I started using about two years ago. Family of 4 traveled through Europe for 3 weeks with even smaller bags (22 x 17.7 x 9.8 inches) and everyone had a backpack. Worked great!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Wow!! That’s awesome!

    • Elizabeth M.

      We’re doing the same for a upcoming trip to Japan. Our family of 5 invested in backpack style carry on bags from ebags. We’ve been practicing packing for our 15 day trip for summer and plan to take packable backpacks to carry water/snacks etc. for our day/night sightseeing outings, while our “luggage” remains in our hotel or lockers at train stations. They are the same size as a typical carry on, but no wheels which forces us to think about the weight of what we’re packing.

  7. jen s.

    Measure your bag to make sure it will fit in your airlines carry on bins. That’s pretty crucial…. you can’t just assume since it’s labelled carry on it will fit. I don’t use packing cubes but roll my outfits. 2 tops plus 1 bottom rolled together is 2 days worth of outfits. Do the same thing with 2 rolls of nicer restaurant outfits and you’re covered for a week. Find the flattest dressy sandals you can get. Helps tremendously!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awesome tips! 🙌

  8. Ann

    How are you able to bring on a bag that is 32.7 inches when the carry on limit size is 22 x 14 x 9 inches?

    • karwowm

      It only comes up to her knees so she’s either 7 feet tall or the height description is wrong.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      SO sorry for any confusion. We had the wrong luggage link listed. Thanks so much for pointing that out. We are updating the post now!

  9. sherry

    My husband and I traveled to Portugal for 6 weeks with just a small carry on suitcase (to put in the overhead bin) and a backpack (to put under the seat). We booked our air bnbs with the amenities of a washing machine and wifi. In Portugal the clothes dryer is the clothes line. It wasn’t ever a hardship.
    It was an asset because we traveled by train a lot. The load we carried was manageable.

    We also didn’t need a international phone plan. A European sim card didn’t work in our phones. Our Air Bnbs had wifi so we private messaged our hosts, and family. We also were able to video call our family through private messager. We had the advantage of the internet so finding directions and attractions was never a problem.

    • MrsGarfield

      This is in regards to your phones – you have to unlock your phones from your carrier in order to insert a different carrier sim card (regardless if country). Also if you are with T-Mobile the data and text messages are free in over 240 countries – I believe everywhere in Europe.

      • sherry

        I did unlock my phone and my husband’s phone prior to going, but when we got there the European sim card would not work. It was stressful at the time but turned out not to be a big deal.

      • Elizabeth M.

        Yes! We have T mobile and it was sooo nice not to have to worry when we went to Europe.

  10. Simpleton

    My family always travels with backpacks only now. My husband and I and our 3 kids all have the Osprey Porter 46 backpack it’s the largest size allowed for carry on. It is a very highly rated backpack and we see them all over in our travels they are very popular. We just got back from 2 weeks in Thailand ( we all got free plane tickets with credit card miles) all with only our Osprey backpacks as a carry on and and another backpack as our personal item. I carry a Travelon anti-theft purse inside my personal backpack that I can use once I arrive at my destination. I am going to purchase a Travelon anti-theft backpack to use on my next trip as I love the anti-theft locks on my purse and they are also on the backpacks. I also purchased a Travelon toiletry bag that fits perfectly in my Osprey back and holds a lot. I have figured out how to pack light and wear things more then once and mix and match. I also find airbnb’s with washers to do laundry. I purchased my Travelon purse and toiletry bag at Kohls with the Veterans day sale so I got a super good deal. I purchased the Osprey bags at Ebags on sale with 23% off top cashback and also got enough points on Ebags for one free Osprey bag. I have learned over all the years with Collin how to save money and I do it very well! A BIG thanks to Collin I have been with her from the beginning! Happy Travels!!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      This is so awewesome! So neat that you were able to get your plane tickets free with miles, AND that you traveled for 2 weeks with just your backpacks! Love it! 🤗

    • beth

      Please consider checking in on the reddit onebag sub. There are a lot of people with kids who ask how they can travel with just one bag, but a lot of the people on the sub don’t have that info. I think a lot of people would find it super helpful!

    • Bridget

      Any tips appreciated for getting the most out of air miles to fly free? We have an upcoming Europe trip next year and have some miles that would love to get the most out of.

  11. Maria

    I agree with all the sentiments above! My husband and I went to Amsterdam, Greece, and Barcelona last summer with two small backpacks and these compression sacks were seriously a life-saver!

    It also helps to travel in the Summer since individual items are less bulky. Oh, and if you stay places with access to washer dryers even better. I stuffed my headrest with clothes too and even though it wasn’t super comfortable it helped. We traveled WOW and a few other budget airlines and they can be very strict so I wanted to make sure I didn’t get charged or stopped at the gate like many other passengers did. I few other tips: My cousin always travels with a shopping bag so she can bring souvenirs back on the plane that look like they came from a shopping trip in the airport. I tried it coming back from WA a few months ago and it worked like a charm. Safe travels everyone!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Hi Maria!

      Thanks for the tips, I’m gonna have to check out those compression socks!

      • Simpleton

        I also use the compression socks from Costco and I use these: Hefty Slider Jumbo Food Storage Bags – 2.5 Gallon Size instead of packing cubes they work just a good and way cheaper (3.99 for 12 at Amazon). I put a knee on them to get air out and done! Another tip I read somewhere I am happy to pass along.

  12. Susan

    I’m always carry-on (up to two weeks!), but a 32″ bag is WAY over the carry-on size restrictions. Please let your readers know what the appropriate sizes are so they don’t turn up at the airport and get charged to check this oversized bag.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for commenting, Susan! Sorry for the confusion. You’re right. We will get that updated!

  13. lydia

    We travel with one backpack and one carry on bag per person. Whether it’s a 2 week trip to Europe or a beach weekend- we are frequent travelers and have been traveling this way for over 12 years. I make sure to pack neutral colors and mostly solid fabrics, that way all of my tops, bottoms and shoes will match. A small bag with lots of accessories and simple makeup.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Love THIS! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Joy

    I had a college professor who only traveled in black and white. Everything matches everything, including shoes. Packing is simplified and outfits are a no-brainer. Plus, it’s super chic so you always look appropriate.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      What a smart idea! Thanks for the helpful suggestion, Joy!

  15. MrsGarfield

    I travel mostly to Europe for the whole summer break, 2 months (to visit my family) and unfortunately carry-on only doesn’t work for me. But I still have to be very selective what I pack because it is easy to exceed the allowed weight, esp. when you pack presents for quite a few people.
    So I don’t bring any shampoos, etc but I bring one travel size toothpaste and toothbrushes for the whole family and once we get there we go shopping for the necessities. On the way back I ditch all of them.
    I usually pack our pills, electronics, camera/lenses in one carry-on (in case they make us check a carry-on) and in the other – the overflow from the checked-in luggage, usually shoes or other items on the heavy side. That way I can check that luggage if needed. However, last trip this past summer, they totally ruined my checked carry-on, it was even missing a wheel!
    As our personal carry-on items, I prepare backpacks for us in which I put all necessary items for the flight, since we keep this under the seat. I keep there the passports, money, etc, headphones, charging cables, iPad/phones, etc and even a magazine. I also keep small snacks, empty water bottles (to refill once past security), tissues, disinfectant wipes (to clean the tray), chewing gums in case we need them when gaining altitude, etc. Anything that we might need on the flight or while waiting for a connecting flight without opening the carry-ons, that includes the pills for the duration of the trip. Since we take 3-4 flights one way only (and only the transatlantic flight is anywhere between 10-12 hours) you can see why I prepare like this. Being organized like this has helped me somewhat keep my sanity when traveling with young kids.

    • MrsGarfield

      Forgot to mention that I always keep all the liquid stuff, the one that you can bring only 1 bag of in the same place, like small perfume, travel size toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc in one place so it’s easy to take it out if needed. In UK, for example they always make you put it in a bag but that is only there.
      Also, the carry-ons with 360 degree wheels are a lifesavers because I can push both with one hand and hold my child’s hand with the other.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Oh yes! Being organized sure is helpful when traveling with little ones! Thanks so much for taking the time to share what has been helpful for you when traveling!

  16. V

    Buy storage compression bags from amazon. The ones you just roll and don’t need a vacuum, Seriously a life saver. I will never travel without them. Lots of good travel organization videos on youtube.

    • Angela V.

      Thanks V, great travel tip! I’ll have to give them a try.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Oh awesome! Thanks, V! Good to know how useful those are!

  17. nbrynne

    As a pilot’s wife who flys standby I can only count on carry-on. I do the same: backpack and Rolly bag. I always keep the bags pre-packed and ready to go, full of everything like small toiletries, q tips etc. travel pillow, travel blanket, gum, earbuds, socks, ibuprofen, motion sickness pills, phone charge cord, external charger and anything I’ll always need traveling. Then I keep a quick checklist on my phone to grab what I’ll always need for clothing, wallet, keys etc. has worked great for years!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Such a great idea to keep a checklist on your phone! Thanks for sharing!

    • shop4mybabies

      my co parent is a pilot so my 15 year old has spent her life flying on stand by. we have gotten to be pros at packing her small carryon, even for 2 weeks in Japan.

  18. Klp

    I love all these travel tips! Curious about traveling on a plane with toddlers. Some info I’ve read said to buy diapers when you get there. Also any good blogs or tips for going to Disney!

    • molly

      Yes, definitely buy once you arrive. I pack maybe 10 for travel, and then make Target/Aldi’s my first stop upon arrival.

      • Klp

        Thanks 🙂

    • Laura

      Disagree. Bring your diapers and then when they are used up, you will have room for souvenirs. We have done this when the kids were little and it worked great.

      • molly

        Packing a stash of diapers is hard to do if you’re just traveling with a carry-on, which is the focus of this post.

    • Sara

      www disneyfoodblog com

      www wdwinfo com

      www mousesavers com

      www touringplans com

    • Dawn

      All is all Disney. I always took diapers so I would have room in a suitcase for souveniers. On the plane I spy works, so does small objects like a magnet doll with clothes to put on her, clothes pins can be decorated as reindeer or anything. Paper and pencil can be used for drawing, hangman, filling the missing letter, or many crative ways.

    • sandy

      look into the airplane’s policy. some list diaper bags as free carry-ons in addition to your personal item. also if you are goi g to a popular city, use amazon locker and purchase your necessities to have them shipped to your location.

  19. molly

    My family of 5 travels for 3-4 weeks every summer. We only fly with carry-ons: just TWO rolling suitcases full of packing cubes, and we each bring a backpack as a personal item. We pack a lot of light, dry-fit type clothing for the kids, which allows all their clothes to fit into a single packing cube each. There are always laundry facilities at hotels, so we never run out of clothes, plus it’s just so much easier to be able to quickly grab your things and go. Our first stop at a destination is usually a Target or DollarTree to stock up on the little things that weren’t worth packing–toothpaste, hairspray, detergent, coloring books/toys for the kids, etc. We have so much fun hopping around from place to place, and that’s made so much easier by packing lightly!

    • molly

      Oh, and one thing I ALWAYS pack lots of is gallon-sized ziploc bags. Everyone has a few in easily accessible places… we’ve had two trips now when a little one threw up in the car or on the plane. It is SO much easier to clean up and manage accidents (e.g., wet clothes, stinky diapers) or even your trash, when you have these on hand. Thankfully they are small and don’t take up much space at all.

    • MommySpendsLess

      Molly – do you have tips for saving money on lodging since you travel with 5 for 3-4 wks/year? I can’t seem to find accommodations for just 2 of us for less than $180/night (after taxes/fees) and $220+ is more common. At 3 weeks that’s almost $4,000 before airfare, activities, additional meal expenses (from eating out more than normal) and souvenirs. Do you just budget $7,000-$10,000/yr for travel or stay with family/friends, etc.?

      • Mandi

        AirBnB all the way for lodging and Skyscanner for airline tickets…

      • molly

        We have friends/family in some areas, but we tend to road trip all over and usually stay in Hampton Inn-type places, which run around $120/night in many locations (with free breakfast and usually free parking). I’ve had luck booking on Hotels dot com, which offers good rates, free cancellation and you can earn free nights. I do A LOT of research and constant re-booking with prices drop. With small kids, we’ve made the decision to avoid major cities for now (NYC, DC, SF), and that’s saved A LOT without sacrificing adventure or cultural experiences. Recently, we spent $6K for 3 weeks in AZ/UT visiting a ton of national parks, and then spent the same amount in just a week at Disneyland (both including airfare and car rentals). So, money can stretch, but it’s all about your travel choices. I personally have not used AirBnB or VRBO because it didn’t seem to save us much after you factor in cleaning fees, though I do consider them a good option, especially if we were to travel with others and wanted to share a larger place. Anyhow, so much depends on location, but even if your lodging is pricey, I’m sure there are other areas to save money. Good luck to you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re right! GREAT idea to plan on washing some items, in order to reduce the amount you need to pack! Thanks a bunch for commenting!

  20. Dkp91576

    Now airlines have separated carry on; below seat in front of you vs overhead bin space. So some airlines only allow you a free piece that can fit under seat. Since I usually fly Frontier who sometimes has $25 tix each way, I do my best to fit everything in a book bag that fits under the seat. My goto is 2 sets of clothes, extra shoes, no toiletries. Once I land, I head to a dollar store and get bathroom/shower stuff. For clothes, I just get a local t shirt or tank. Uber to a mall and get more clothes if needed. If I get a bit too much stuff, I mail it back home super slow mail. I got round trip tix to new orleans for $107 but SouthWest and Jetblue were both $300 or more. The difference is way too much for me. Frontier and Spirit plus underpacking for the win. Once I visit a winter place, I might have to change this a bit but for now, warm places are easy. Maybe I will do the Joey from Friends approach and wear five layers lol.

    • molly

      Haha! Love it. I try to have my kids wear their thickest, bulkiest clothes on the plane (since it’s cold anyway). Jeans/jackets/etc… Those take up too much space in the packing cubes. Also agree about mailing. If there were things I “needed” to have from our travels, I’d send home a large priority mail box at the end of the trip, which costs around $20 and includes $50 insurance. Still less than a check-in bag, and I don’t need to worry about it when traveling.

      • Dkp91576

        Yes! My cousin and I flew to PR for a long weekend but we got a lot of souvenirs, local coffee, rum, bathing suits. We went to the post office and mailed both book bags to our homes $35 each. The only thing we carried on the plane was our fanny pack with mini ipads, wallet and snacks. We felt so freeeeeee hahaha and floated through the airport and security.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      I’m loving all of those tips! Thanks for letting us know what has worked well for you!

  21. Kay

    My hubs n I traveled to Thailand n China (2 extreme opposite temperatures) over 2 weeks with a carry on n backpack each. We even managed to return with a ton of gifts. I love my Swiss Army backpack. Lots of compartments n very sturdy. Still in great condition over 10 years later. Ziplocks helped a lot too.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How neat! Good to know your Swiss Army backpack held up so well, Kay! Thanks for taking a moment to comment! We sure appreciate your feedback!

  22. Lor

    I have to laugh at these posts! Way back in 1970, when I was a freshman in college, we were making a trip to Europe with our band and choir for four weeks. I read the dimensions of the suitcase that was given by the travel agent who booked our flights. I diligently got four weeks worth of clothing, including concert gear, in that size suitcase. When I turned up at the airport, those were the dimensions of the carry-on, not the checked baggage! Since this was well before suitcases with rolling wheels, I had the last laugh as carrying my suitcase from hotel to hotel, on and off the bus, was a breeze for me! I am so into traveling light – we did a three week cruise last year with only a spirit airline sized carry-on and everything worked out perfectly!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      That’s so awesome! Thanks for taking a moment to share your experience with us, Lor! It sure is much easier to travel when you can pack lighter!

  23. Jill

    Oh my gosh, Collin! I learned this from my older sister. I happened to me in her city once when she needed a trip to the airport for her flight to Hawaii. She had this awesome leather duffle bag with 3 things: a toothbrush, a swimsuit and a cover up…one that she could wrap all sorts of ways so that it felt like she was wearing something different. She must have had something to sleep in, but who knows. LOL! The only time I’ve ever checked a bag was when I moved to Spain. Even now working as a VIPKid teacher, and having to take my iPad and iPad stand with me, it all goes in the plane:)

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      LOL! That’s great, Jill! Happy both you and your sister have benefited from traveling with less!

  24. Dealzgurl

    As a notorious overpacker, I dislike carry-on bags–especially if I have to take my laptop. I work best with a wireless keyboard so I’m having to lug it and a mouse too. Fortunately, I have a great laptop backpack so that and my carry-on feel like a lot. Plus, my height makes hefting the carryon bag a challenge depending on the size of the plane. The good news is that Delta flights I’ve flown in recent years were typically overbooked so the flight attendant would check the carryon for free at the gate. That’s a bonus cuz I avoid the bag cost like the plague when I can, lol. Great tips! I’m in awe of some your minimalist packing stories!

  25. Paige

    We take so many more vacations by traveling the $20 sales with Spirit and frontier. Their personal item size easily fits enough for a 4 day trip! 🙂
    (18x14x8 inch)

  26. ssqfan88

    We travel ALOT! I’m actually leaving Wednesday for a trip to Alaska to visit my sister I am actually paying for suitcases tho because I’m taking a TON of stuff up! Lol But a few years ago my hubby and I and his family backpacked through part of Europe.. we each had one backpack for 1 0 days! It was awful packing haha! But it has made me pack a lot lighter since then! I actually took some old T-shirt and threw them away when done to make room for new ones and souvenirs! 🙂

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      How fun! Hope you have a wonderful trip!

  27. Bunny

    We sometimes travel overseas and stay for several months. We pack clothing that is still in very good shape but something we would consider donating to Goodwill.

    Once our trip is over, we place our clean and folded clothes on a nearby park bench. Within an hour, all of our clothes are gone and someone has given them a home. Win win!

    It makes our flight back to the States much lighter and much easier!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      What a sweet idea, Bunny! 💕 Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  28. ree

    good tips ! i buy the laundry sheets (on amazon) to travel with and when possible also book places with washer/dryer. you can literally wear the same outfits over and over and just wash. i love travel cubes too.

    • Mary

      Link for laundry sheet pls

  29. Illinois Gal

    I’ve been using an IT lightweight carry on for years – – can’t go back to the regular weight luggage now! Also, I learned this trick from one of my college roommates over 40 years ago: instead of laying folded up clothes in your suitcase, layer them unfolded then fold in the pant legs, long sleeves, etc. at the end. Efficiently uses space plus helps keep them more unwrinkled.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Oh cool! Thanks so much for the heads up on that trick!

  30. Sarah

    My grandma traveled with a gentleman a few years ago who packed all his old and ratty clothes for a 2 week Italy vacation. When he was done wearing it, he tossed it since he would have done so at home anyway!

  31. Patty

    My husband and I only take carry ons wherever we go. We just finished a 6 week European trip with one carry on each. Laundry pods!!!

  32. Bunny

    Shout makes a product called Color Catcher. When we travel, we pack them along with pod laundry detergent because they are lightweight. That way I can wash whites with darks in one load. A lot of the front loader washing machines in Europe seem to take forever to complete a cycle. It’s a real time and money saver.

    • gray757

      Great tip! Thank you

  33. beth

    I love Tom Bihn bags. They don’t look like it, but they actually fit more than a rolling bag and weigh a lot less. They work great with airlines who will weigh your carry-ons(which seems to happen more and more to me). We have also managed to shove them under a seat if there wasn’t overhead space(admittedly, not super comfortable but kept them from being checked). They aren’t a cheap investment but they come with a lifetime warranty and have held up under less than ideal conditions(being dragged through the snow-travel nightmare story, thanks travel insurance!).

    I also take clothing that may be on its “last legs” especially socks and undies. That way, I can just toss them out at the end. I am definitely not one of those chic looking models when I travel, but I am comfortable.

    I still enjoy physical books so I pick some up from a library sale or used book store and then leave them as I finish them. Most hotels will have a space for them as well as Airbnbs.

    I always carry a variety of ziploc bags, and plastic bags as well as a tote bag. I can fold the tote into my purse when out and about in case of purchases. I find that a lot of museums etc. will not allow larger bags so the tote helps me out. Also, if I am forced to gate check(again, happens more and more), I pull out the tote and grab a packing cube out of my large carry on to take on the plane in case something is lost.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      These are great ideas too! Thanks so much for listing your tips for us, Beth!

  34. heidi

    I love your backpack, but it would not work for me on almost any airline I fly. It is too big and they would charge me 35.00 for that personal item. Also, I am older and really do not want to carry backpacks, so I purchased a rolling backpack for my carry on. Even with that I have to really under pack so it looks smaller. I fly Frontier domestically a lot and they charge more for a carry on suitcase than they do if you check a bag. When I fly overseas many times I have to stick to a 44 lb limit even when I check my suitcase. They will let you bring a big bag just cannot weigh that much. I travel overseas a lot and the biggest thing to remember is read the rules for weight and size bag. They are all different. I got a great neck pillow at Target that has some cushy in it, but it still has to be blown up. It comfortable, but takes up less room. Airlines are a pain. One time Delta told me my rolling backpack was too big, so right before boarding I had to unload the stuff I did not want stolen and when I was done the thing was almost empty. It is all ridiculous. I wish size of bag did not matter and only weight. I love packing in zip lock bags. I even put a 2.5 gallon zip lock bag in my personal item, so I can put my personal item overhead if possible and just pull out the 2.5 gallon zip lock bag for just the things I want on the airplane, then I have more room for my feet. That is my best tip I think.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      That’s a great tip for sure! Thanks so much for taking the time to explain what has worked for you on your travels!

  35. Jen

    Just wondering the backpack you use does it give a little to squeeze it under the seat. I’m going on United Airlines and the dimensions 9 x 10 x 17 and your bag is 11 x 7 x 16

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Hi Jen! I have traveled with it quite a few times now – even on smaller planes, and it has fit under the seat every time for me. I’ve not had to put it in the overhead. Hope this helps!

  36. fivejaze

    I would love to hear some tips from those who wear makeup, sunscreen, and hair products on a daily basis with regard to the limits on carry on bags. The sunscreen I wear cannot be purchased at most mass retailers. In addition, I prefer not to shop for toiletries when I arrive for a vacation. Any helpful hints would be great. TIA

    • chickie00

      Me too! lol I just keep thinking, what do you do if you take your toiletries with you?
      shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, contact solution, EOs, etc. (especially to a foreign country, where who knows what the stores will be like & what they carry)
      Yea, most stuff you can get travel size, but not everything (i.e. the brand of shamp/cond I use), though I guess you could rebottle everything…(what a pain! lol) but you can’t have a limitless amount of 4oz bottles…

    • Jackie

      Re: Toiletries I take only the expensive toiletries. Re: makeup I $ powder form as they don’t count as liquid. Lipstick I do take. Pack liquids horizontally into quart Ziploc if possible it packs more items! If you can try & get makeup/toiletry samples ahead of time. Target gives out free samples brands change often. Just ask clerk in beauty area.

    • Beverly

      If I’m only going for a few days, I can fit an ample supply of some products (like facial moisturizer) in an old contact lens case.

  37. Ann

    Great article. I need to learn to pack light. Any suggestions for a good backpack that has a sleeve to slip the bag onto the carry on handle. I’m struggling to find a good one that’s not too expensive. Thank you.

  38. Jill

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for telling me about the Leke Sky backpack. It is now my favorite bag for lugging around my computer and traveling. I love this bag so much.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Yay! You’re SO very welcome! Glad you are loving it! 🙌

  39. Jackie

    Awesome post! I do travel carryon only. In process of simplifying wardrobe to warm waterproof clothing that dries fast. I put all of the items I want to take in a pile then simplify outfits into cubes. Also started collecting samples. Last minute travel size items add up $! I have the toiletry refill containers that work well! Also if something is too poofy to fit in luggage I wear it through security. Last flight in December Alaskan Airlines security said put everything inside bag including toiletries! It was awesome! Fastest security wait ever!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing your tips with us, Jackie!

  40. Ian

    Carry-on is definitely the way to go, especially when you have multiple connections. Last year I attended a wedding on a Scottish island. Flew US -> Dublin -> Aberdeen -> island destination and only arrived 2h before the wedding, but the connections were tight and there was no way I could check a bag. With the last hop being on a tiny prop plane, the carry-on size was limited to 16 x 13.8 x 7 inches and 13.2lbs, and yes they weighed it–but between a travel jacket (the ScottEVest Pack Windbreaker) to hold my heaver items and a smaller carry-on bag to hold my suit (in a Large Ziploc storage bag) and dress shoes, I was able to pack for two days of wedding events and three days of touristing. Rolling my non-suit clothes but bringing a travel steamer made a big difference!

  41. Chrissy Goff

    I pack a carry on bag for my granddaughter and myself. I put them in a large suitcase and check them in (we are going to Germany so free) Then the empty suitcase is usually filled up by my mother with things she knows we can’t buy stateside. One year I ended up bringing home rolls of wallpaper and Christmas items. She never amazes me. Then coming back we have one carry on and the 2 checked bags. We are heading out next month so I will see how different it is this year.

  42. Chrissy Goff

    Going to Germany is easy. Coming back is hard as they weigh all your stuff even your purse so they can charge you extra money.

  43. Sandra

    Collin, how cute a traveler are you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Aww, Thank you, Sandra! 🥰

  44. Maggie

    For all those who love carry ons, would you please do me a BIG favor? Lift your carry on up over your head and do a twisting motion, holding for 10 seconds as though someone is in your way, and then twist it back down like you’re carefully removing it to the aisle and a fragile person is next to you. Easy? Then you’re good to go. Physically too hard? Check it. I’ve had multiple hard sided carryons belonging to other people get DROPPED ON MY HEAD by people who couldn’t physically handle their own carry on. I check mine because my back is bad–I don’t want to be that person who drops it on someone! Backpack lovers, PLEASE remember to REMOVE it when entering the aisle so you don’t swing it side to side behind you, whacking people in seats as you go — I saw a young woman spill a hot cup of coffee all over an older woman’s lap by whacking her with the backpack as she went by, turning to chat with the person behind her. I’m all for CONVENIENT travel — but also SAFE travel for the people you share space with. Thanks!

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